by Jack B. Stephens
Welcome to Part 21 of The Sounds of the 60s! As we uncover bands from this significant and influential decade of rock and roll, we continue to see how many bands only last for a few years while others blossom into iconic groups. Many bands seemingly have every path to long lasting success, but obstacles appear that throw them off the track. Other bands have incredible lasting success; however, factors come into play that end their journey prematurely. We will look at a few bands that demonstrate both traits.
Bubble Puppy originated in 1966 founded by Rod Prince and Roy Cox in San Antonio, Texas. The original lineup was completed with the addition of Todd Potter, Danny Segovia and Clayton Pulley. However, Pulley and Segovia were replaced soon after with Craig Root and David Fore. Prince and Potter began the use of dual lead guitars which were later used by several bands. They were known for their raw psychedelic sound. The band achieved a recording contract with International Artists, a Texas label, and began touring with several popular acts of the time including opening for The Who in 1967. Eventually in 1969 the group released “Hot Smoke & Sassafras” which was a hit in several countries including the United States where it reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their only album “A Gathering of Promises” was released the same year. Unfortunately, despite the single releases of “Beginning”, “Days of Our Time” and “What Do You See”, the band was not able to chart again. The lack of further success led the band to hiring Nick St. Nicholas of Steppenwolf as their manager, changing the bands name to Demian and signing with another record company namely ABC-Dunhill Records. A major reason for the change in the band’s name had to do with it being associated with bubblegum music which the band never even played. This association at the time was considered incredibly bad such as other future music genres would experience. However, the release of their self-titled album and the single “Face the Crowd” in 1971 were not successful. This led to financial difficulties and the breakup of the band in 1972. Some members of the band did attempt to reform during the following decades.
The Doors are one of the most popular, controversial and influential bands of the 60s and their success continues until this day. The band formed in Los Angeles by Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore in 1965. They landed gigs at clubs such as Whisky a Go Go where they were the house band. Morrison was quite unpredictable and charismatic in both the bands performances as well as their lyrics. The group got a recording contract with Elektra Records in 1966 and shortly released their first self titled album. This was followed by eight Top 10 albums and a number of singles in just five years. They are noted as one of the best-selling bands of all times and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Their first single “Break on Through (To the Other Side) was released in 1966 and was not as successful as their next singles would be. “Light My Fire” their next release in 1967 proved much different. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 selling over one million copies and marked the beginning of the group’s acclaimed success. Television performances of this song and others began the controversy that would always be tied to Morrison and the band. One example of this was when Ed Sullivan told the band that they could not use the word “higher” due to his perceived association with the word and drugs; however, his attempts were unsuccessful with Morrison instead emphasizing the word in the performance. Sullivan told the band that they would never perform on his show again. Released the same year was their second album “Stranger Days” which included the single “People Are Strange” which reached number 12 on the Hot 100 and “Love Me Two Times” peaking at number 25. The year also marked the first time a rock artist, namely Morrison, was arrested onstage during a performance for a scuffle behind stage with police and his description of it in a song onstage. This would not be the end of controversial occurrences for Morrison. 1968 would see the height of the bands popularity although the first single release “The Unknown Soldier” only reached number 39 on the US Chart. However, with the release of the album “Waiting for the Sun”, the band saw their first and only US number 1 album. The album included the single “Hello, I Love You” when the band once again topped the Billboard Hot 100. Fans were in a riotous frenzy during many of the bands outdoor performances leading to several encounters with the police. During the same year the band released the album “The Soft Parade” which included the single “Touch Me” which reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Cashbox Top 100 in 1969. However, the bands momentum during 1969 was becoming marred due to Morrison’s increasing dependence on alcohol and drug use. Still, the album was very successful despite critics attacking its musical integrity. The album also included “Wishful Sinful” reaching number 44 on the Hot 100, “Tell All the People” peaking at number 57 and “Runnin’ Blue reaching 64. The year saw the infamous performance in Miami where Morrison arrived an hour late extremely drunk and was arrested for public obscenity. However, the groups fifth album “Morrison Hotel” was released in 1970 to lots of fanfare from critics and fans. The single from the album “Roadhouse Blues” reached number 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite the increasing decline of Morrison, the band released their second best selling album “L.A. Woman” in 1971 which included the singles “Love Her Madly” peaking at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Riders on the Storm” reaching number 14. Regardless of the success, Morrison took a leave of absence from the band and was found dead in Paris on July 3, 1971 at age 27. The reasons for his death were reported as heart failure due to a heroin overdose. The remaining members of the band tried to continue on; however, without Morrison success was limited and The Doors disbanded in 1973.
The Amboy Dukes
The first period of The Amboy Dukes began in Chicago in 1965; however, the band went through several lineups and was later based in Detroit. The center of the group was always consisted of Ted Nugent; however, it was the band that introduced the guitarist known as the Motor City Madman. The Detroit lineup in 1967 consisted of Nugent, John Drake, Steve Farmer, Bill White, Rick Lober and Dave Palmer. The bands first fame came while performing the club circuit in Detroit where they became one of the areas biggest attractions. That same year The Amboy Dukes released self titled debut album consisting of originals with a different psychedelic metal sound. Their sound is known as a big influence on future heavy metal bands. The band had one highly charted single with “Journey to the Center of the Mind” reaching number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. Other singles could not crack the charts including “Baby Please Don’t Go” in 1967 and “You Talk Sunshine I Breathe Fire” in 1968 although they did reach the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 Chart. The releases in 1969 includes “Prodigal Man”, “For His Namesake” and “Flight of the Byrd” all failed to chart. The group continued on with album releases and line up changes in the early 70s without huge success. The band continued on as Nugent’s backup band, but the name was retired. Despite often conflicting political ideas with some in the rock community, The Amboy Dukes influence on future bands remains very relevant to the history or rock and roll.
The Human Beinz
The Human Beinz began as The Premiers in 1964 in Ohio formed by John Belley, Joe Markulin, Mel Pachuta and Gary Coates. Initially, the band recorded covers of several other songs. By 1967, the group officially changed their name and signed with Capitol Records. The Human Beinz released an album “Nobody But Me” in late 1967. The single of the same name was released reaching number eight hit on the Billboard Hot 100. That would be the last time the band would chart that high despite other releases. The next album was 1968 was “Evolutions” and contain their second single “Turn on Your Love Light” which reached number 80 on The Hot 100. However, the single reached number 1 in Japan. The group ended up being much more popular there than in the United States. The single “Hold on Baby” was only released in Japan and topped the charts. Other releases included “Every Time Woman”. The third album was “In Japan” in 1969, but despite their success overseas the band broke up in March of that year. Other songs of note include “The Shaman” and “April 15th” both of which show the ability the band had to become much more than what some call one hit wonders. The Human Beinz were often overlooked for how deep their music truly was. An interesting note is that their song “Dance on Through” was part of an episode of The Addams Family, a sitcom popular at the time.
As the bands we have covered in this part of my series demonstrate, most bands who reach a certain level of success typically have some type of influence on future bands and sometimes upon a whole genre of music under the rock and roll umbrella. Things within a band either within or without often lead to that what destroys a band even when successful. Sometimes an association with a type of music genre, even if that is not what a band is playing, can lead to catastrophe. Other times what makes a band popular such as a leader who goes beyond the known leads to a premature end. The people who make up the group often have conflicts with each other which disrupts the blending of personalities along with their music.
Jack B. Stephens
Sources and Further Information:
Find The Doors bio, music, credits, awards, & streaming links on AllMusic – Mystical blues-based rock group based around the…